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PM accepts ganja legalisation petitionHope floats

Saturday, July 21, 2018
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley receives a petition from head of the Caribbean Collective for Justice Nazma Muller on his arrival to Parliament yesterday. Photo by:SHIRLEY BAHADUR

As cannabis activists gathered outside the Parliament building yesterday, one strummed a guitar chanting “the Lion of Judah shall break every chain”.

This later seemed to be the case as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made what appeared to be an apparent about-turn on his stance toward the issue of legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana in this country by accepting a petition on it and agreeing to set up talks between the activists and the Attorney General.

Two weeks ago at a post-Cabinet news conference, Rowley said the issue of the decriminalisation and legalisation of marijuana was not a priority for his Government. On that day, head of the Caribbean Collective for Justice Nazma Muller was denied entry to the Diplomatic Centre, where the press conference was being hosted, as she attempted to deliver a petition, featuring 10,000 signatures, to Rowley calling for the legalisation of marijuana here.

The Government had also previously denied a request by a Caricom-appointed group to have a national consultation here on the issue of the reform of marijuana laws.

However, around 12.50 pm yesterday as Rowley arrived at the back entrance to the Parliament building, he exited his vehicle and approached the group of 50 or so activists who had gathered outside. The group came to support Muller as she hoped to deliver the petition to Rowley’s protocol officer.

Instead, she was able to meet face to face with Rowley.

Rowley greeted Muller and collected the envelope with the petition from her stating, “We don’t have to fight over this.”

He assured Muller that a meeting, which will include Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, will be scheduled to discuss the way forward on the matter.

“It’s a great day for Trinidad and Tobago, the Prime Minister has indicated that he is willing to have a conversation to discuss the legalisation of cannabis,” Muller said.

“I think he recognises it is a golden opportunity for us as a country and for him as leader to leapfrog from the back and get to the front on this global cannabis industry, to help people who are suffering with cancer, epilepsy, all sorts of diseases, chronic pain. So I thank the Prime Minister, I welcome his openness and I hope he will move swiftly as part of the crime plan to immediately suspend all arrests for possession and prosecution of the possession of cannabis.”

Muller added, “The Prime Minister has given us his word that he is going to discuss this, it is going to be dealt with as a priority and we are going to have a positive conversation he says, no more negativity.”

Muller also met with Al-Rawi yesterday and gave the petition to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh as they entered the Parliament.


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